Reshaping standards, enabling change

Every day, social workers support millions of people to improve their chances in life. Social Work England is a specialist body taking a new approach to regulating the profession. We believe in the power of collaboration and share a common goal with those we will regulate—to protect the public, enable positive change and ultimately improve people’s lives.

Social work is fundamentally about people and that is reflected in the complexity and often competing priorities of the role.  As the new regulator, it is important for us to anchor what we do in the values that underpin social work and also welcome new ways of working that empower professionals to be the best they can be.

We are at the beginning of our ambitious journey to establish a new organisation and ensure that our initial transition phase is completed in a safe, smooth and effective manner.

Fundamentally, we must begin this journey with an open and honest conversation with people who have an interest in our work, to challenge our thinking and help shape the specialist regulatory body we will become. This consultation is our first major opportunity to bring people together to consider the cornerstones of our regulation – our standards and rules.

Standards create the basis for regulation – they are central to everything we do. We are consulting on the professional standards that social workers will be expected to meet, and those that we expect from education and training providers. The standards are the threshold necessary for safe and effective practice in social work and will be underpinned by guidance. The standards were developed in partnership with our professional expert group, experts by experience who have used social work services, and our counterparts in social work regulation across the UK.

Their advice and guidance has been invaluable but now it’s over to you. For me, striking the balance between safe transition and new challenge is at the core of what we’re trying to achieve with these standards, and we need to hear whether you think the balance is right.

Rules underpin regulation and those included in our consultation are based on the legislation that was passed to establish Social Work England. The rules outline what social workers can expect from us in relation to registration, fitness to practise, and education and training assurance processes. They set out what we will do in our day to day practice of regulation; are designed to promote collaboration with social workers and education and training providers; and to ensure we are fair, agile and transparent in all that we do. We need you to tell us if that is the case.

Details on how to feedback on the five consultation documents can be found at the end of each document. To promote collaboration further, we’re also holding a series of events across the country to facilitate dialogue. Our social media channels provide another platform to have your say via #SocialWorkEngland.

We are committed to raising standards with everyone involved in social work. Part of this commitment includes work at a local level through our new regional engagement roles so that we can engage and listen to every part of the country.

Our journey to becoming the new specialist regulator for social workers in England is both exciting and challenging. We hope you’ll be an active part of it by contributing your views.

You can find submit your response to the consultation here until 1 May at 5pm.

Colum Conway

Colum Conway

Colum became Chief Executive of Social Work England in September 2018. He is a registered social worker and previously led the professional regulator for social work and social care in Northern Ireland from 2013 to 2018. Prior to this, Colum spent six years as Chief Executive of a large not-for-profit organisation providing care services in all programmes of care across both jurisdictions in Ireland. Colum has worked in statutory family and child care services, early years policy, funding and service provision, and family systems support services in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.